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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Making Connections on the Coast

Moving to a new area can look formidable, especially in as diverse an area as the Crystal Coast. The question often comes up about making new friends and becoming a part of our community. One of the great things about Carteret County is that it really is a collection of small towns. We are not an area where it is hard to meet people. We have so many newcomers in our population that you will find people very open and willing to strike up a conversation over almost anything. Carteret County folks also are not allergic to looking at each other like is often the case in the big cities. Do not be surprised if someone actually makes eye contact and smiles at you. Many residents are so happy to be someplace where the weather is great that it is hard for them to stop smiling.
When we meet someone new, the conversation often starts out, "I just love living here, I do not miss all the snow and cold in the north." Almost everyone here has that common bond of not liking cold weather. Weather is a big part of our lives here so we talk about it in the grocery stores and wherever we happen to get together.

Since this is the South, one of the first places that people get together is in church. Churches here on the Crystal Coast come in all sizes and shapes. We happen to go to the Cape Carteret Presbyterian Church. We were surprised after we started going that once a month during the winter, the ladies host a "light lunch" after the Sunday service. The meal turns out to be a great place to meet residents and visitors. We have enjoyed taking part in it. I even joined the men's group which has turned out to be a great way to hear about interesting things.

There are some larger events hosted by churches. Saint Peters By-the-Sea Episcopal Church hosts an annual Loberfest. This year's edition is scheduled for Saturday September 13. Last year we really enjoyed both the Lobsters and the company. It turned out that one of our neighbors was a cook at the event.

Many of the Home Owners Associations throughout the county also host community picnics and meals throughout the year. Our subdivision, Bluewater Cove, usually has a Memorial Picnic, another one on the 4th of July and this year some of Saint Peters' Lobsters are finding their way to our end of summer event hamburger and hot dog event.

There are other great community events where you can meet people. This last weekend of August there is a crafts fair at the Beaufort Historic site. It is sponsored by Carteret Arts and Crafts Coalition.

Actually there is almost an unlimited number of ways to meet people here on the coast. The Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is always having events. They are wide ranging and cover everything from cooking to surf fishing and kayaking.

We have met a number of people on our regular hikes of Croatan Tideland Trails located in Cedar Point. There are always some nice dogs to visit with on the trails.

While people tend to stay themselves on the beaches, we often stop and talk to the surf fishermen or visit with the canine walkers who are always looking for another friend.

Sometimes when we want a different perspective of the beach, we will go to Bogue Inlet Pier and take advantage of the free admission that walkers get. It is always fun to see what is being caught.

We have also gone down to Morehead City for some of the fishing tournaments and watched the fish being weighed. We met a number of people when we went to Beaufort to have a look at Black Beard's cannon after it was raised from Beaufort Inlet.

As Labor Day draws to a close and the "crowds" thin out, it becomes easier and easier to make connections here on the Crystal Coast. Unless you are a fall fishermen, and they spend most of their time in boats or in the surf, being here on the shore during the fall usually means that you are a resident.

We still have some empty nest visitors and parents with pre-school age kids who come to catch some of our warm waters, but as the fall moves forward and the pumpkins start to show up, you'll find the crowds are mostly locals trying to renew connections with each other.

If you want to meet someone in Carteret County, and perhaps make a new lifelong friend, just put on your favorite tee shirt which is formal dress for fall events and head out to the nearest gathering of locals.

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